UK Oil Production

The graph below shows UK oil production, imports and exports from 2000-2008. (source: DUKES, 2009)

The UK imports crude oil for a variety of commercial reasons.

  • Refineries consider the type of crude rather than its origin. Most UK refineries use North Sea type crude and do not differentiate between the UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea.

  • Some companies have interests in both sectors. Some share pipeline infrastructure; the Norpipe oil terminal in Teeside, for example, receives both UK and Norwegian crude.

  • Some crudes are specifically imported for the heavier hydrocarbons which they contain, as these are needed for the manufacture of various petroleum products such as bitumen and lubricating oils. This contrasts with North Sea crude which contains a higher proportion of lighter hydrocarbons, giving more motor spirit and other transport fuels.

  • UK domestic production of individual petroleum products no longer matches the domestic demand. The UK has surplus production of motor spirit and fuel oil but insufficient aviation fuel. Aviation turbine fuel and gas/diesel oil come from the same fraction of crude oil (middle distillates), but to different quality criteria. As the production of one increases, there is less of this fraction available for the other.

    The total amount of oil products used by industry was in decline in the middle 1990s as it moved away from oil as an energy source. From 1998-2003, oil usage was around 5.5 million tonnes. It went to 6.5 million tonnes in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Since then it has dropped slightly (5.8 million tonnes in 2008).

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